Southeast Raleigh YMCA and Elementary School

Southeast Raleigh YMCA and Elementary School

Raleigh, North Carolina

Delivering on a Community’s Promise

In Southeast Raleigh on Rock Quarry Road, just off Interstate 40, a bright, friendly campus hums with activity indoors and out. It’s home to a hybrid YMCA and elementary school, but it’s also a beacon of hope and progress. Part of the Southeast Raleigh Promise (SERP) and developed with the Purpose Built Communities model, it seeks to address systemic social and educational inequities.

YMCA of the Triangle and Wake County Public School System
115,000 SF

We welcomed the opportunity to design this transformative space. The residents of Southeast Raleigh shared their desires — for early childhood learning spaces, healthy-living options, organized sports activities, technology access, and pedestrian-friendly connections.

The finished facility balances all of the amenities of a regional YMCA: full-size gymnasium, wellness center, two aerobics group fitness rooms, an indoor track, locker rooms, an outdoor aquatics center, and an athletics field with a shelter structure — and a 503-student elementary school with 32 classroom spaces for grades PK-5, a media center, multiple learning commons, a commercial kitchen, administrative student support spaces, and outdoor play areas. Shared spaces, like the gym, cafeteria, and community kitchen, are centrally situated for optimal use.

The YMCA and elementary school each had their own unique programming and security requirements. Our design approach creates access without sacrificing security. For example, the front façade is colorful, dynamic, and inviting. Upon arrival, visitors continue through an outdoor courtyard to the actual main entrance on the protected interior of the site.

Today, natural light fills classrooms and activity abounds. Students are learning to swim in the YMCA pool. Neighbors tend and harvest the community gardens. And pre-K prepares the youngest children for school. Pride radiates from every corner, and the site fulfills its promise to the community.

collaborative learning commons

Collaborative learning commons — or living rooms — dedicated to each grade level facilitate an inquiry-based learning curriculum.

“Our facility is incredible. The spacious nature of common areas, intentional collaboration spaces, outdoor garden areas, and upstairs kitchen make our school facility one-of-a-kind. The intentionality in planning for our community is evident.”

Becky B., Teacher

Sustainable features

Sustainable features include a cistern that captures rainwater from the pool house roof, reclaimed water to irrigate the playfield, a green roof with multiple educational garden plots above the Pre-K suite, and within the building, ample access to outdoor views and natural daylighting. Low-emitting and regionally sourced materials were used throughout the facility.

“This [represents] one step toward alleviating generational poverty and creating equitable opportunities for all. Not to mention it is beautifully designed and built, providing inspiration and aspiration to all those whose lives will be touched.”

Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin, City of Raleigh

Aquatic promenade

The pool house and aquatic center is located along a main pedestrian promenade that leads visitors to a shared entry for the main building. The sprays from the splash pad provide soothing acoustics and an evaporative cooling backdrop.